I Am Giant sure live up to their stage name. Their first album The Horrifying Truth was a tremendous success in 2011, certifying Gold in New Zealand and peaking at Number 2 on the New Zealand Album Charts. They have been busy since, touring in New Zealand, Australia, Europe and Asia, whilst subsequently producing albums for other rock bands as well as their own. It seems that I Am Giant will again storm their way up the charts with their long – awaited second album Science and Survival; after all, it has been three years since their last studio album. Rock fans are in for a treat this month as the band deliver yet another album of head-banging, foot-stomping anthems, with lead singer Ed Martin’s exceptional vocals guiding us through all 13 tracks.
The band attempts to anchor their sound with this sophomore album, which is a mixture of classic alternative rock and tentative experimentation of both hardcore and easy listening. Look out for the recurring motif of the murmuring French woman, established in the 40 second introduction Guéthary. Upon hearing the distant chiming of the church bells, it’s clear that the album is going for a darker – if not haunting sound. The introduction transitions smoothly to Echo of the Gallows, the track title basically signifying the band’s maturity to a deeper, brooding level. A clashing drum sequence gets the ball rolling, coupled with an amazing riff from the electric guitars and that extra kick from the bass. Martin sings with fervour and angst, a voice showcasing its capability after years of anticipated waiting. Oddly the real show-stealer here is the instrumental, each element carefully thought out and placed together to create each track. Razor Wire Reality also features wonderful slashing guitar riffs but the melody could do with some variation; each phrase seems to always end with Martin’s voice sliding lazily on the note. Though Death of You and Out of Date Hallucination make up for it, featuring fantastic harmonies that contribute to a richer, fuller sound.
When listening to the album for the first time, it is best to listen it in order as most of the tracks transition into the next. Guéthary, Ça Vous Dérange and Miss Seattle all act as preludes to the tracks following them, and are notable features of creativity in this album. However, some other attempts at creativity are a bit of a hit and miss; the abrupt and somewhat random key change in Silhouette sounds out of place and unnecessary, and the too sudden ending of Transmission ruins what could have been a highlight track. Dragging the Slow Dance Out is a chiller; a welcome change from the heavy rock influence of the other tracks. Unfortunately it lives up to its name a bit too realistically, with Martin’s repetitive crooning becoming mundane by the 4 minute mark.
Ultimately, the albums’ message deals with the human condition, our inner thoughts and our desires. I Am Giant is able to communicate such powerful themes to us, and have our heads nodding to the beat. It’s confronting, it’s haunting, tedious at times but still packs a punch in every song. Rock fans won’t be disappointed.